Honey has been used for literally thousands of years as not only food but also a medicinal product in many different cultures. Its natural properties make it a great addition to any diet, and actually work wonders in our bodies, from a remedy to a cosmetic product. Honey is the product of the work of bees, which gather the pollen from hundreds of flowers and process it over and over inside their own bodies to produce a highly nutritional, highly energetic product that they use to feed themselves.
Even if most honey we consume in industrialized countries is processed, and for that reason loses many of its properties, raw honey is actually a better product for your health and your beauty. In this article, we review 20 extraordinary benefits of honey for your physical health, your appearance, and your styling. You will be surprised to learn just how much honey can do for you!
1. Great nutritional complement
Honey is very nutritious. It is a natural product of vegetal origin that is elaborated by bees from the pollen; many natural food stores and dietary supplement stores offer pollen as a natural nutritional complement, and honey is a concentrated, naturally elaborated product of pollen. Pollen itself is very nutritious because it is the natural precursor of seeds, so it needs many vitamins, minerals and other components that will later support the life of the early days of the new plant that will grow from the seed.
Honey is around 4/5 natural sugars, but it also has many other nutrients such as a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, as well as a considerable proportion of water. Raw honey also contains a dose of pollen, that is left inside of it after the bees are done processing the honey, so you can add all the known benefits of pollen.
2. A natural and healthy source of energy
Sugars are known to be our main source of energy; they are small molecules that burn fast and easily, quickly releasing energy for the cells of our body to use for a variety of purposes. However, taking too much sugar is also known to be harmful to our health. Glucose is the most common type of sugar in the world, as well as by far the most frequent sugary additive of processed foods that we eat, especially in industrialized countries.
An excessive intake of sugar can cause us to gain weight, because we take more calories than we burn, and our fat (our secondary source of energy) starts piling up in our tissues since it is not needed. Also, high blood sugar levels are associated with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. However, the type of sugar found in honey is healthier than glucose, so honey is a great sweetener with reduced risk to your health.
3. Sugar replacement for losing weight
Since honey is a healthy replacement for glucose, it can be used as a sweetener in a weight loss diet. Overweight and obesity are among the most widespread epidemics of the first world nowadays, and people make great efforts and sacrifices to find a way to fight these conditions and prevent their many negative effects on their health, including potentially deadly disorders such as heart failure and thrombosis.
However, being a healthy sweetener isn’t the only way honey can help you lose weight. Raw honey also lowers triglycerides, which is a type of fat that circulates in your blood when you are overweight or obese. Furthermore, some active components of raw honey can activate certain hormones such as ghrelin, which induce a feeling of satiety and reduces your cravings for food. An insufficiency of ghrelin is linked to an increased risk of obesity and overweight.
4. Cardiovascular benefits
Chronic cardiovascular disease is another of the most common health affections in first world countries, and in a lot of cases, the main cause is our less than desirable lifestyle and our poor eating choices. Luckily for us, by merely adding some raw honey to our daily diet, we can help reduce our likeability of developing cardiovascular complications, and improve our circulatory health. Honey has many natural antioxidants, which are substances that prevent and slow down the negative effect of the passing of time on our cells.
For example, these components help our blood vessels dilate, thus reducing our blood pressure. They also prevent the formation of blood clots, which when they get stuck in a small vein can cause a stroke or heart attack, or at least an obstruction of a blood vessel. Antioxidants help eliminate free radicals, and as a result, protect the health of our heart.
5. Regulation of cholesterol levels
Cholesterol is a type of fatty molecule that circulates in our bodies through our blood and when in excess, can deposit against the inner walls of our veins and arteries. Cholesterol is useful for us because it helps make our proteic structures more rigid and resistant, but as you can see, it is all a matter of proportion. Too much cholesterol can make some structures too rigid, and therefore affect their function.
There are two types of cholesterol, LDL which is known as “bad cholesterol”, and HDL also known as “good cholesterol”. LDL is more dangerous to our health and increases our risk of strokes. The active components found in raw honey can help our body process the bad cholesterol and turn it into good cholesterol, thus decreasing our risk of developing coronary complications or any other consequence of digitization of our blood vessels.
6. Antioxidant effects
We have mentioned antioxidants before, but now let’s discuss this issue with more detail. In order to stay alive, we need thousands of chemical reactions happening in our bodies all the time, and those reactions have an outcome in the form of one or more types of molecules. Some of those are useful, like ATP, a molecule used to store energy or proteins. Others are chemical waste, such as carbon dioxide, and must be eliminated through our breath, urine or excretion.
And then there are free radicals, small molecules that hang around after metabolic reactions and, if not dealt with, can cause a number of diseases. Raw honey has many different antioxidants, which are substances that help catch free radicals and inhibit their actions. For example, flavonoids help fight cancer and boost enzymatic activity, and polyphenols protect our heart and also help fight the apparition of tumors.
7. Sleep improvement and regulation
Sleeping enough, both in quantity and in quality, is fundamental for our well-being and our health. When we sleep, not only do we recharge our energies and feel rested for the day to come, but also our healing processes increase, we release growth hormone, and we sort out and organize our memories inside our brain. If you have trouble sleeping, then one or two tablespoons of honey before going to bed can work wonders, especially when combined with warm milk that will help you relax.
The healthy sugars of honey induce the production of tryptophan in your brain, a precursor of serotonin. Seratonin is vital neurotransmission that helps regulate anxiety and mood, and also can turn into melatonin, the hormone of sleep. Additionally, honey restores your body’s reserves of glycogen, a heavy molecule sugar that produces satiety and prevents you from waking up at night.
8. Reduction or complete relief of pollen allergies
Allergies, in general, are abnormal immune responses to nonthreatening substances as if they were threatening to our health. They are a result of a disfunction in our immune system, that fails to recognize that a certain substance or agent, such as a vegetal product like pollen, isn’t a pathogen but instead a harmless component of plants.
When we have an allergy, our body rejects the substance and tries to get it out of our body; for this reason, in the case of pollen allergy, we feel itchy eyes, a running nose and sneeze frequently. These are all attempts of our body to clear our airways of all the pollen particles. However, allergies can be relieved if our bodies get exposed to mild doses of our allergen until our immune system learns that there is no danger. Raw honey has pollen inside of it, so taking it over some time can decrease our allergic response to pollen in the air.
9. Benefits in the prevention and treatment of diabetes
Diabetes is a growing epidemy, strongly linked to lifestyle-related disorders such as for overweight, and excessive sugar intake. Though it has a genetic base, people can develop diabetes for a number of reasons; the most frequent of all is poor dietary choices. When we eat too much glucose, we force our body to deal with these high levels of sugar in our blood, and sometimes this situation damages our regulation mechanism and diabetes appears.
Raw honey is known to reduce diabetes risk, mostly because it is a healthy alternative to glucose. It can be as sweet as glucose and provide approximately as much energy as glucose, but the sugars present in honey are easier for our body to process and decrease our risk of excessive blood glucose levels. Also, it is a great dietary addition for people with diabetes, because the sugar found in honey isn’t affected by insulin insufficiency.
10. Cough relief
Perhaps a glass of milk with honey, or honey tea, is the most widespread home remedy for cough. The active ingredients of honey can help relieve our cough, for example when we are cursing a cold or recovering from it, or our throat is irritated due to allergies, dry or dusty air, or overuse when yelling or speaking too loudly.
Raw honey is known to outperform some common cough syrups that you can buy at the pharmacy, and it is much cheaper and with no side effects. Raw honey also decreases mucus secretion, which helps relief productive cough and irritative cough as well. You can take raw honey or buy honey sweets, which will work just as well for your sore throat or your cough. Mixing it with a hot beverage such as tea or hot milk will also relieve pain caused by larynx muscular contractures.